This is my search section here


← back to Sermons

    Feb 01, 2019

    Class 6: Marriage and the Gospel

    Series: Marriage

    Category: Core Seminars, Manhood & Womanhood, Marriage, The Gospel



    How Does the Gospel and Forgiveness

    Transform Our Marriages? 


    Our topic is the gospel and marriage. The Gospel is central message of Bible. We understand the gospel to be…. 

    • God is the great Creator, and he made man and woman to be in his image.
    • Men and women are sinners. They rebelled against God, choosing their own way and abandoning God’s way. Sinners deserve God’s wrath and eternal separation from him.
    • In this story, the good news (in fact, the best news) is that God sent his son, Jesus, to be a substitute for sinners. Christ is the Savior who came to forgive sinners and reconcile them back to a God.
    • What is required of sinners is a response to this message. Some will reject the message. Others will respond with faith—that is, they will put their trust in Christ, choosing to follow him and what he has done.

    A gospel-transformed heart results in a changed life that offers the same mercy, love, grace and forgiveness as has been received from God. There are several elements of the gospel that we want to focus on today—salvation, love, grace, faith, and forgiveness. 

    Salvation, Love, Grace, and Faith. Let’s look at Ephesians 2:1-10 and let’s see how this text can instruct us about grace and faith. [Read Eph 2]. What do we see in this text?

    • Theme: God lavishes his grace on us by saving sinners through his own initiative. There are two sections in this text—vs. 1-3 and vs. 4-10.
    • 1-3. Paul starts w/ we were dead in transgressions and sins. That means we were spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people can’t save themselves. Our death is caused by our transgressions—our violations of God’s moral law—and our sins—those things we choose to do that are an offense to God. Paul further explains our sin with the famous triad—the things that corrupt us and make us dead—the world, our sinful flesh, and the devil. This was not by accident or it was not a one-time problem, but sin characterizes our life. It is a fundamental part of our nature. “were” – note the past tense of that first verb. This is who we were before we became Christians. This is what our life was ruled by—sin and death.
    • 4-10. The most important conjunction in the bible is found in vs. 4 – “BUT.” Signifies a turn, a contrast. Things are going to change. / God choose to show mercy sinners—those who were dead and could not save themselves. His mercy flows from his love and it is not based on anything meritorious in those whom he chose to save. There is nothing we did to earn our salvation, no human works that accomplished it. So we can boast about ourselves. Instead we recognize that salvation is a gift from God. / Paul repeats the phrase twice: “it is by grace you have been saved.” Grace is unmerited favor from God for those who have sinned against him. It’s not just a disposition of God towards sinners, but it is also the “power” (Eph 1:19-20) that transforms them and secures their salvation. / What’s our response? It’s one of faith—a confident trust in Christ as our personal savior. / vs. 4-10 describes who we are now as believers; those who have been saved by God’s marvelous grace. 

    Let’s take a few ideas from passage and draw out some implications for our marriages. 

    “But God…made us alive…”

    Principle: Our sanctification flows from our justification. Real change in your marriage (sanctification) is possible because you are saved.

    The big turn in this passage is vs. 4—the contrast between our past sinful states as unbelievers (vs. 1-3) and our present salvation in Christ as believers (vs.4-10). We start out by pointing out we are no longer what we once were. We are no longer bound by sin. Sin no longer characterizes us; so it no longer needs to characterize our marriages. It does not mean our marriages will be perfect; no marriage is. All marriages are hindered by sin. But because God saved us and made us alive, there should now be the transforming power of the gospel worKingwithin your marriage. Sin no longer dominates; grace does (Romans 6). Salvation makes a difference for our marriages because God has transformed us. This should give you hope if you are struggling with sin in your marriage, because change is possible because the spirit dwells in believers. Transformed hearts and the Spirit bringing conviction, repentance, and greater faith is what saves our marriages. Because God has saved you, there is always hope for your marriage. 

    “But God…even when we were dead in transgressions”

    “It is by grace you have been saved…”

    Principle: Out of his merciful love, God saved sinners by his grace. While we can’t save our spouses like God does (only Jesus saves); we are image-bearers who throughout the Bible are called to be like God (Gen 1:26; 1 Peter 1:16; Eph 4:24; 5:1). When we see how God treats us in our salvation, it sets a pattern for our marriages. In the face of our spouse’s sin, we want to be like God—we want to be loving and gracious towards our spouse’s sin. 

    Again, the big turn in this passage is in vs. 4. And this big turn hinges on God’s merciful love towards us. What’s remarkable is that God does not do this for people who deserve to be loved; no, he shows his merciful love to sinners, those who were his enemies and by nature hated him. / If this is what God is like for us (sinners), this sets the pattern for our marriages. How do you respond to your spouse’s sin? Do you typically respond to your spouse’s sin with sin? Because God has saved you, you supernaturally have the ability to respond differently. You can supernaturally choose to respond with love in the face of your spouse’s sin. In that, you live like God—you respond to your spouse’s sin with loving mercy. I know that marriage, even as Christians, can characterized by Christians respond in sin to one another. I just wanted to say that if the gospel is true, it is actually possible to respond in love to your spouse. Supernaturally - It’s not by your own human strength, but by God’s strength. It’s not by your own abilities and gifts; but by God’s spirit worKingwithin you. / Grace is God’s undeserved favor to sinners. It is something we do not deserve. Again, if we are to live like God, then we want grace to characterize our marriages. We want it to be the overall tone of our marriages. Our Christian marriages should not be two sinners captivated by sin. Our Christian marriages should be two sinners captivated by grace. A gracious God saved us and transformed us. We sinners transformed by grace. Transformed sinners respond to one another with grace. God’s grace sets the pattern for our marriages—we want to respond to our spouse’s sin with grace. APPLICATION: What’s the overall tone of your marriage? Anger, hatred, conflict, OR love and grace? 

    “…through faith…”

    Principle: The battle in marriage is often for faith or unbelief.

    As we said earlier, the gospel commands a response from us—either faith or unbelief. Faith is a confident trust in Christ and reliance on him. / In our marriages, we are often tempted to trust ourselves (our sinful flesh), trust the world, trusting in the lies that roll around in our minds and hearts, rather than put our trust in Christ and in his agenda for our marriages. Reliance on Christ would mean trusting in him and his Word as truthful rather than trusting in anything else. / What does that look like? Bob and Jenny are struggling with each other because they don’t agree on how to spend their money. They’ve gotten into a fight about it. A little disagreement gradually spins out of control as they both defend their own desires (James 4:1-2). Jenny starts saying mean things about Bob. “You’re controlling.” “You’d don’t ever give me freedom.” “You don’t really care, do you?” If you watch Bob, you would see similar ways of thinKingand acting. What’s most fundamentally wrong with their fighting—they are giving in to unbelief. They’ve lost sight of God, and they are narrowly focused on defending their own little Masterdoms. God’s Word doesn’t matter anymore. Take Jenny as an example – she no longer believes in God’s Word but consistently gives in to unbelief – 1 Cor 13 “always trusts” – she doesn’t start with a position of trust for husband’s motives, but gives in to the lie she must be suspicious; Eph 5:22-24 She doesn’t believe that submitting to his leadership is really what is best, but thinks their marriage would be better if she ran the show. I could go on and on showing the contrast of how God’s Word shows one thing, and rather than choosing to believe it, she gives into unbelief (i.e., she trusts the lies in her heart and the false assumptions in her mind). As they give themselves over to unbelief—they trust more in themselves and their own agenda’s than anything else. Does this characterize you? My goal here is not to give you a quick fix for that marital fight. My goal is to frame the problem in terms of faith or unbelief.


    What is forgiveness? It is a cancelling or paying in full for a “debt” that someone else has created (Matt 6:12; 18:27, 32). The “debt” is a personal, relational debt, i.e. a struggle between two people, often caused by sin committed against each other. You are releasing the offender from the punishment or payment that he or she deserves. Forgiveness is offered freely and unconditionally; it is undeserved and cannot be earned (Luke 7:42-43; 2 Cor 2:7-10; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13). 

    Let’s look at Matthew 18. [Read ch 18:21-35]. What do we see in the text?

    • This parable of Jesus involves three main characters: The King (NIV) or Master (ESV); the wicked servant; his fellow servant. The King/Master is God; the wicked servant is us; the fellow servant is anyone we deal with.
    • God’s Great Mercy in Forgiving Our Debt. The wicked servant owes an enormous debt to the Master. The amount (10,000 talents) is meant to be incalculable; something akin to billions of dollars in our own day. The common practice in ancient times for outrageous debt was to sell the family and everything he owned as punishment for a debt that could not be repaid.
    • The wicked servant pleads for time in order to repay the debt. “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” The Master has pity on him, and kindly responds by forgiving the debt.
    • The Wicked Servant Doesn’t Get What God Did For Him. The wicked servant runs into a fellow servant that owes him 100 denarii. Note the contrast: this is a much smaller amount (thousands of dollars instead of billions). Yet, the wicked servant seizes him, chokes him, and demands, “Pay what you owe.” He does not forgive him and has him thrown into jail until he could pay off his debt.
    • Two clues that this wicked servant to get the enormity of what God has done for him in forgiving his debt.
      • 26 – “I will pay you everything.” He didn’t get the enormity of what he owed, or he didn’t comprehend how this debt is way beyond what he could handle on his own. God’s mercy was the only way for his debt problem to be solved.
      • 29 “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” Echoes what the wicked servant said to the Master (minus the word ‘everything.’). His harsh treatment of the other servant showed that he didn’t get what God had done for him in forgiving his debt.
    • Mercy Begets Mercy. Other servants saw this, reported it to the Master, and the Master came back angry. The Master asks the wicked servant the question, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” And he has the wicked servant thrown in jail until he could pay his debt.
    • If you have been shown Mercy as a Christian, you have no choice – you must show mercy to others. Anything else as a Christian is unacceptable.
    • What’s the point of the parable?
      • The story encourages us to marvel at God, who forgave us such an incalculable and enormous debt that we could never repay on our own. That should inspire praise to God for what he has done for us in our salvation.
      • Forgiven sinners forgive sin. The enormous debt that God forgave for our sin should be a motivator for us to forgive (by comparison) the much smaller debts that our friends have committed against us. Dave Harvey sums it up well: “The appreciation of a massive debt forgiven (our sin against a holy God) forms the base and starting point for our forgiveness of one another’s much smaller (by comparison) offenses. Without understanding the depth of our sin against God and the riches of his forgiveness toward us, we will never be able to forgive others…Extending true forgiveness is clear and persuasive evidence that we have been forgiven by God. The bottom line is that forgiven sinners forgive sin.”
      • If a person is unwilling to forgive, it shows that (1) God’s mercy has not transformed their heart and life (vs. 32-33); and (2) they will be liable to pay the consequences for their sins (vs. 34-35; they will be liable to pay back the debt if they are unwilling to forgive. Prison is an allusion to the eternal punishment that the wicked servant deserves). 

    Implications for Marriage:

    1. Forgiveness is costly. It is not easy. Most of the time it is hard to forgive. When you cancel a debt, it simply doesn’t disappear. Often times your life is affected by the foolishness or sin of the other person. But forgiveness means you willingly decide to absorb the punishment that person deserved. That’s costly, especially when you consider the range of things that sinners can do to one another, both “small” sins (forgetting to pick up something at the store on your way home) or “bigger” sins (adultery) and everything in between.
    2. Unforgiveness is just as costly. To not forgive someone is just as costly. Not forgiving someone leads to jealousy, anger, and envy. Unforgiveness sows seeds of bitterness that with time will grow and make everything worse. The cost of not forgiving is worse than actually forgiving the person. Not forgiving someone is a dangerous move because it’s spiritually and relationally destructive for your heart. What makes us hold off on forgiving? Our sense of justice makes us want to punish the person or exact some type of revenge. Whether it is giving them the “silent” treatment, or constantly reminding them (maybe even berating them) for what they did wrong, we as sinners choose all types of ways to draw out the situation rather than offer forgiveness. So be warned—a lack of forgiveness is a recipe for more trouble. / Remember from the parable, the wicked servant was thrown into jail until he could pay off the debt. His unwillingness to forgive the other servant was costly for him.
    3. A lack of forgiveness is a horrible witness. Look at the parable – the other servants saw what happened, and the text says they were “greatly distressed” (v. 31). The wicked servant’s lack of forgiveness was a horrible witness to others looking on. If our marriages are meant to be a display of the gospel then when we don’t forgive our spouse, it is a horrible witness for the gospel’s transforming power.
    4. Forgiveness means no longer keeping a record. Do you know what exhuming is? Digging up old bones from a grave. A bad habit of some spouses is to dig up things that their spouse has done wrong and use it against him or her in a fight. Even if they have expressed forgiveness after the wrong-doing, they still use their previous sin against them. Don’t exhume. 1 Cor 13:6 “love keeps no record of wrongs”. If you really forgive them, then you will let the past be the past. If you really have forgiven them, then you are choosing to no longer hold it against them. Forgetting doesn’t mean the memories go away. You can still remember it, but that’s different than holding it against them.
    5. Forgiveness means forebearing over the long-haul. The reality of marriage is that you will keep encountering your spouse’s sin because they will struggle with sin for the rest of their life. So how do you continue to forgive? Note Peter and Jesus’ interaction at the start of the parable (vs. 21-22): Within Judaism, three times was sufficient to show a forgiving spirit (Job 33:29; Amos 1:3; 2:6). Peter thinks then it is a big deal to forgive seven times. Seven – in the bible, number of completion/perfection. Jesus says, “You think that is a big deal…well, Christian forgiveness asks much more of you…seventy times seven.” Jesus ups the ante. Seventy times seven – doesn’t mean after 491 times you can stop forgiving; this is an infinitely large number….much larger than you could have ever imagined. Humanly speaking, who can really do this? No one. That’s why it is so appropriate that this comes from Jesus’ mouth. To forgive someone this long and this often is not humanly possible; it takes a supernatural act from God / it takes the Holy Spirit dwelling in sinners for this to happen consistently within marriage. If you are struggling to forgive, ask God to help you. To do this consistently over the long-haul in your marriage requires God’s help. You can’t do it on your own.
    6. Christian forgiveness is possible because of the Cross. As Christians, why do we forgive our spouse? Because Christ forgave us (Eph 4:32)—that’s the basic point of the parable. Remember, forgiveness requires that you absorb certain effects of another person’s sins and release that person from punishment. This is precisely what Jesus accomplished at Calvary—He secured our forgiveness by taking on himself the full penalty of our sins (Isa 53:4-6). Forgiveness is not easy, but it is possible because of what Christ has done for us at the Cross.